Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky 
By Shelia Turnage
Dial, 2012
Reviewed from e-book
Audience: Grades 4 to 8
ISBN:  9780803736702
Publication Date:  May 10, 2012

Moses LeBeau is looking for something, her upstream mother who let her go during a hurricane twelve years ago.  Luckily she was found by the Colonel, an eccentric man with little memory and a habit of running off, but she also has Miss Lana, an eccentric woman with a passion for wigs and theater.  Mo's life is centered in Tupelo Landing, a small town where everyone knows all your business and very little else.  When a detective comes to town and starts asking questions about a robbery in the next town over, the townsfolk get nervous, but they are even more nervous when one of their own turns up dead.  None of this stops Mo and her friend Dale from getting in on the action and trying to solve the mystery themselves, and try to solve their own problems at the same time.  A great Southern mystery with colorful characters a plenty sure to delight readers.

Let me start by saying, why hasn't this been a Caudill yet?  It's perfect!  There's your Newbery Honor to appease the teachers and librarians, and plenty of humor and action for your readers.  This to me hits the Caudill sweet spot and I hope to see it make the list very soon.

I loved the community in this book.  Tupelo Landing is a place that time forgot.  It's often hard for authors to write books with perilous action in the modern era because even 8-year olds have cell phones, so why don't they call for help?  Well, in Tupelo Landing you won't get a signal.  They are living on the river, close the hills, and are pretty cut off.  But everyone from the mayor to the neighborly grandmother are willing to lend a hand.  

I also loved the dialogue.  I really should have used more highlighting in this book.  There are just some great one-liners.  Like this one when Mo loses some documents from the Colonel's file, she says:  "I'm sorry sir, it's real hard to flatten tires and do paperwork at the same time".  That struck me as incredibly funny.  And Mo has a dry sense of humor like that.  You won't find any fart jokes here, but most readers will get the subtle humor and appreciate it all the more.

I'm very tempted to check out the follow-up The Ghost of Tupelo Landing.  I've read the reviews on Goodreads and they are quite positive, but after loving Mo and Dale so much, I'm afraid for that to be ruined.  

This book is a perfect bait and switch.  It has real substance but enough humor to fool readers into loving it.  It's like a really healthy corn dog, or great tasting fat-free ice cream.  It's a rare thing indeed.

Happy Reading!

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